Based in the UK, Paul Swaby, founder of Cult of Fashion talks about the concept behind his successful fashion production company, setting up a business and maintaining a good work/life balance.
Tell us about Cult of Fashion and how you came up with the idea for the business.
Cult of Fashion is a creative production company that services the fashion industry. Although our specialist skill is fashion show production, photo shoots product launches and live events of varying nature are also elements that we happily produce with aplomb.
The idea for the business stemmed from my background as a model, dancer, choreographer, musician and show director.
This gave me the experience and the confidence to, and most importantly the understanding of what is required to be successful in this business.
What was the moment when you decided you wanted to work for yourself?
As a performer onstage I had achieved all that I had set out to, the next phase was to work for a production company to gain the experience and understanding of how things worked from a client’s brief and creating the show based on it.
The moment came when I realised I understood clients' briefs far better than the production companies who employed me. Although with respect I would not approach any clients introduced to me via those Production Companies for 2 years.
The fashion industry is a very competitive field. How do you make sure Cult of Fashion stands out and has a unique angle?
Yes, fashion is extremely competitive and I believe what makes us stand out is first and foremost the likeability factor.
If you are pitching to a client, the first thought that goes through their minds is do I like this person, am I comfortable being free to discuss and be creative with this company.
Secondly is our high level of creativity, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to show clothing.
We are specialist at showcasing Jewellery and Accessories on the catwalk.
At Cult of Fashion you have worked with some very big fashion brands. How did you create these relationships and collaborations?
We approached Royal Ascot about the possibility of producing a couture fashion show during its racing event.
With this collaboration we were able to work with top designers such as:
Stephen Jones Julien MacDonald
To name a few and once you have the trust of brands of this quality it makes opening doors so much easier
Networking is very important in any professional field and the fashion industry is no stranger to that. How do you see networking and creating business relationships?
Synergy is essential to my company, clients sometimes would like a one stop shop and not having to deal with many suppliers, so we have formed relationships with companies’ integral to aiding a more diverse event.
We are not in competition with each other and offer services which collectively makes us stronger.
Personally I do not network events, I have a tendency to invite potential clients to see Cult of Fashion in action,” action speaks louder than words”
Many entrepreneurs say that they take calculated risks and they listen to their intuition when making business decisions. Does this apply to you and what do you take in consideration when making calculated risks?
Mistakes are an excellent learning tool. I think any entrepreneur would agree. I have made my share but that is usually when I go against my intuition. Instinctively I just go for it full steam ahead:
Conceive Create Deliver is the CoF ethos
It’s no secret that business owners work a lot of hours. How do you keep a work life balance?
“What you put in is what you get out” I love my job so putting in the extra hours is not a problem for me
As the Creative Director I am forever looking for sources of inspiration so I’m frequently at the theatre, museums, product launches which creates all the balance that I require because I see this as chill time.
What has been an important career milestone since launching Cult of Fashion?
Without a doubt having a top top team that are all pushing creatively in the same direction.
There are many people who want to pursue a career in the fashion industry but don’t know where to begin. How do you suggest is a good idea for them to get their foot in the door and what further advice do you have for them?
Intern and get a feel for it, all that glistens is not gold. You may find it’s not for you.
It's ok to do jobs for free to gain experience but once you know your field and have confidence in the delivery REMEMBER YOUR WORTH and get paid.
Connect with Paul on LinkedIn
Follow Cult of Fashion on Twitter and Facebook